Harder Concepts at Younger Age: Helps or Harms?
Every parent wants their child to excel in school, or keep up with peers in all subjects. They also feel that the kids need to study extra hard for the competition in this world. They are so worried about college, admissions, career that they forget a kid can handle so much.
For example, a few years ago, some political leaders in America argued that we need to offer complex topics like Algebra in eighth standard, which actually used to be introduced in Ninth standard. The idea behind the argument was that the world has sped up over the years, and to compete in this age our kids need to be more prepared than ever. So harder concepts should be introduced earlier in the curriculum.
But the researchers didn’t agree. Dr. Herman Epstein, a professor and a researcher, believed that the human brain has rapid growth periods and plateau periods where not much growth takes place. The middle school age, i.e., 5th to 8th standard falls under the plateau category. Dr. Epstein argued that "the plateau stages were not optimal times for the introduction of new higher-level thought processes, particularly algebra, which eighth-grade students fail more than any other subject. Historically, algebra has been most often offered in grades 10 through 12. That occurs during the age 14-17 growth-spurt stage, when it's OK to teach abstract reasoning concepts.”
The parents were forced to choose a side: either trust politicians who claim that kids need harder concepts at younger ages, or the researchers who believe that algebra can wait till next year.
What do the experts say?
Many students feel the pressure of performing. Pushing themselves towards being better, they just do the work, wrap up and get out as fast as they can. Going further, when harder concept develops, they may not be able to complete the math problem which requires solid foundation skills.
Parents are also under a lot of stress. They see students with 90% marks getting rejected for college and they think it is necessary to study as much as they can for their better future. But pushing a child into Coaching classes won’t always help. You have to take care that the child should not struggle too much.
Dr. Brodkey, a PhD from Stanford in Mathematics and Curriculum Education, says that basic concepts of algebra can be taught in lower classes, if introduced slowly. He feels that the traditional way algebra is taught currently is not appropriate. Putting so many expectations and demands on a child certainly doesn’t do any good.
This article has a few experts, and is inspired by a research on Education.com. Read the original article here.